Thanks for your hard work, Dad.
When I get back home and settle down, I’d like to have an emotional thank-you party.”
Japan’s national soccer team returned home after defeating past World Cup champions Germany and Spain, although they missed the final eight for the first time in their history. Riku Moriyasu, 22, the third son of coach Hajime Moriyasu, was in Australia, a foreign country about 12,000 kilometers away where he is studying abroad for language study, to witness the team’s efforts.
He watched the Japan team’s games with his friends at a sports bar. During the third group game against Spain, there were Germans and Costa Ricans in the bar.
I don’t know why, but everyone knew that I was Moriyasu’s son, and they called me a lot,” he said.
But it was clearly different from the pressure he felt in Japan. I felt comfortable and proud.
He is someone I look up to. I’m proud of him, and like my father, I hear a lot of people around me say, ‘Mr. Moriyasu is a good person,’ so I want to become that kind of person myself.
No matter how he became the coach of the national team, he never changed the way he presented himself to his family.
I have the impression that he was always calm. Even in Hiroshima, he never brought the results of games into the house, and that did not change when he became manager of the national team. I really think that he is a man who is consistent with himself. I think he is a person with a single core.
The Moriyasu family consists of three male siblings: Shohei, the eldest, Keigo, the second, and Riku, the third. The youngest, seven years younger than Keigo, was favored by his father to the extent that all of his siblings recognized him.
He came to my class visits, and when I was in elementary school, he even came to my graduation ceremony. Whenever he had time, he would come to my games.”
My father retired from active duty with Vegalta Sendai when Riku was two years old. As far as he remembers, his father was no longer a soccer player. Then, when Riku was in the sixth grade of elementary school, he became the manager of Hiroshima. From then on, he was seen more and more as “Moriyasu’s son,” and he became more and more aware of this.
However, the parent-child relationship never changed. My father always told me common sense things like, “When you meet someone, greet them first.
Be a person before you are a soccer player.”
These words are still fundamental to his life to this day.
After becoming the manager of the national team, the attention of those around him increased, regardless of his family’s wishes. At times, the harsh opinions of the public were directed at the family. During the hard-fought Asian qualifying rounds for the World Cup, Riku received some heartless DMs on Twitter.
I ignored them all (laughs). So this time, too, I tried not to open social networking sites too much. I know I can’t help it to some extent, but I see things I don’t want to see. I think my father is the same type of person. Are your feelings affected by gossip? I don’t think so at all. I think that’s why I’m able to do this job, though.”
The good sense of “insensitivity” that Riku also possesses may be the most important thing he inherited from his father.
The Moriyasu family also has a group LINE, which most families should have by now. During the World Cup this year, when the whole family sent a message, the father replied to it.
When we won, we all sent messages. After the Germany game, I got a reply saying, ‘We’ll do our best next time. After the game against Spain, they sent me a message saying, ‘I was able to do my best because of my family’s support.'”
Regardless of whether he was the center of public attention or the man of the moment, he was still the same “dad” he had always been. Perhaps this time, too, daily life will resume with the usual exchange of “I’m home” and “Good work. Moriyasu’s contract has been reportedly extended, but to his family, he will continue to be the same “father” he has always been.
Interview and text by： Yukihiro Kodama Photography： Masakazu Yoshiba (1st photo)